You may not know her face, but she single-handedly created a genre of books that are now a mainstay of many a publishing company. She finally wrote her own book, Snapshots, (click on title to purchase) a series of tales that revolves around the characters she met in her long and lively career and, of course, the great food they ate. Do not miss Sandra Martin’s Snapshots.
You are credited with creating a whole new genre of book in your career as a literary agent. Did you do it intentionally or were you following your bliss?
From an early age as a spiritual seeker I found that the deep understanding that came from my reading, studying, listening to lectures, talking with wise men and women created a deep sense of peace and simple acceptance of life. Understanding the larger picture –why we’re here; to learn and grow through challenges and obstacles and to exhibit the joy of love and life as we become better human beings.
Since I studied so many paths, starting with the Primitive Baptist right on through Edgar Cayce, Theosophy, the Seth Material, the Sufis, and Buddhism I had questions. Is there one true path? I always wondered: was one way better than another?
Many years later, I realized that I used almost the same questions that Genghis Khan asked when he summoned religious leaders to his yurt to discuss their particular religion. I’m sure we aren’t the only ones that questioned religious leaders.
He’d ask how they communicated with their gods. I’d ask “Who is it you’re channeling? How do you know he/she is who they say they are?” He asked, “Do you go to heaven or does God come to you? If you didn’t personally receive this information, then who did your God give it to?”
I’d ask many of the same questions. And the most important question was, for me, how is this affecting your life? Are you a better person for receiving this information; are you more loving, more trusting and more peaceful? Too often the answer was no.
He’d ask were the words spoken, written or through signs? And most importantly, he wanted to know what language God used to communicate and if it wasn’t your language, how did that work? I wondered all those things too. Signs and wonders were big from my childhood religion. So I paid attention.
Well, with Genghis, he was particularly interested in Christianity because he married his sons to Christian woman and he himself took a Christian wife. Not for any meaningful spiritual reason: the Christians permitted meat and alcohol. The Hindus, Buddhists and Muslims and Jews did not. He liked the Christians because they were flexible.
He also found that the Christians were the cruelest. One thing that totally weirded him out was that they collected bits and pieces of the saints that suffered from being thrown to the lions, whipped, skinned alive, etc. and Jesus hung from the cross. They collected these slivers of wood, body parts and prayed to them.
The Mongols believed that the spirit of God or heaven was in everything, was everywhere, from the highest heavens to the deepest seas, and could not be constrained in books or by one person. Shamans were their holy men. But they believed that heaven spoke directly to each person, to anyone that was searching for answers from higher consciousness. The information came to them in many ways, an inner voice or signs and wonders on mountain tops, even the trees and rivers spoke to them. Nature was their overwhelming spiritual force.
For some religious leaders it was a journey of a year or more to arrive at his yurt near Burkhan Khaldun in Mongolia. All were hoping to convert him to their religion since he was leader of the world at the time, which would’ve been a big coup for them. Mostly, it seemed Genghis Khan was just curious. He told each religious leader that, from what he saw, no one was living by the precepts that their God gave them, so it obviously wasn’t all that powerful and thank you but no thank you for the offer of joining their religion.
I guess that connection seems strange – religion, spirituality and Genghis Khan but I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for him. Early in my life I read Harold Lamb’s Genghis Khan: The Emperor of all Men and since then I’ve read almost every book written about his life.
With that said, I’ve read many books about every religion and I’ve met many of religious leaders: Pir Vilayat Khan the Sufi leader, The Dalai Lama – George Ritchie, a great spiritual leader, and inspirational Native American teachers. They all had an influence on my thinking and my way of living.
I also read every book ever written about Edgar Cayce and because he was such a Christian man, taught Sunday School at his Presbyterian Church his whole life-and as you probably know, many of his readings are about the early church and are shot through with quotes from the Bible.
All of these things brought out in me a need to share what I’d learned. In those early years I’m pretty certain there were people saying –under their breath-or in their mind- Shut Up Sandra. But I was determined to spread the word.
So, yes, it was intentionally what I wanted to do. By the time I was in my mid-30s I was working at a television station and realized the power of mass media. I started with my own little television series-low, low, low budget, and moved on to creating, writing, and producing documentaries on these subjects. Always thinking about what was most acceptable to mainstream America at that time – so dreams was first since everyone dreams and dreams are always a mystery. Then I produced a pilot on Ancient Mysteries because there is nothing new under the sun (I forget who said that) and later produced a series on Intuition. It seemed to me that all successful people depended on that inner voice, that piece of consciousness that is in touch with all minds, the universal source of wisdom and guidance.
The serendipity of becoming a literary agent was the key to decimating information though. New Age Stars were popping up everywhere and they had huge followings. If you weren’t “in the group” you had no idea about the New Age world except for snide remarks from outsiders. But we knew we were changing the world and we were happy in our pursuit.
When I started driving to Manhattan to pitch book ideas and stars in our field, I was relentless. I talked to every editor who’d listen to me. I’d stop people in the halls of publishing houses, where it seemed so quiet and studious, and get into rousing discussions with these young editors. They were the ones that first saw the fruits of self-help –bringing in the money. I went from one subject (dreams, deep spirituality, intuition, mediumship, alternative health) to another until I’d gotten contracts for my authors/manuscripts.
And, of course, it was my eternal bliss-each and every moment talking about the deeper meaning of life, the magic of every person’s heart, acknowledging the yearning we all have for oneness and connection.
This is a series of Q&As that we will run from time to time with Sandra. Look for our next installment next week.